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The Most Important Stats in NFL Handicapping
by: Bryan Leonard Sports
Everyone handicaps differently and there are many different ways to get to what we feel is the winner in an NFL match-up. Some have the ability to break down a game position by position. Others use a computer to input data. Some are able to watch a game to come to a solid conclusion. Others use trends and angles to arrive at the pointspread winner.
For me it's a combination of these factors that lead to what team I back with my hard earned cash. But for those who don't have the time to do thorough handicapping I give you the two most important factors in cashing an NFL ticket: Turnovers and Average Yards Per Pass Attempt.
Now that Week 1 of the NFL season is final we have the ability to go back and study game results. In doing so we find that the team that won the turnover battle covered every game, while the team that had the higher YPPA went 13-3 ATS. The ATS winners were Tampa Bay, who by the way won the turnover battle 2-0, Cleveland who had a turnover advantage of 5-4 and St Louis who had a 3-0 TO edge. We counted Jacksonville/Minnesota as a push in our record keeping.
While the ability to handicap turnovers can be argued, it's common knowledge that the value of a turnover is roughly 4 points. Therefore if Team A wins a game 13-9 with a one turnover advantage, you can make a side note that the teams played even on the scoreboard when you back out the turnover edge. This gives you two of many different ways to look at the game in hindsight.
What I find very valuable is to keep records of how teams do when they lose the turnover battle, paying special attention to when they are able to cover a games despite having a turnover disadvantage. That tells me the team may be on the rise and I should look for a way to play that squad in the future. As we saw this weekend in the NFL it's very hard to cover a game when you don't win the turnover battle, when a team accomplishes that feat it's a rarity.
As for Yards Per Passing Attempt it's pretty clear that the most important position on a football team is quarterback. You gain more yards on average throwing the football than you do running the ball. YPPA is far more accurate than total passing yards because most teams that pile up large passing totals are behind in the game and need to put points on the board fast. That explains the common misconception that the team with more rushing yards wins. You run more with the lead and pass more when you are behind.
Bryan Leonard Sports Past Articles
The Most Important Stats in NFL Handicapping
Everyone handicaps differently and there are many different ways to get to what we feel is the winner in an NFL match-up. Some have the ability to break ... read more
Baseball's Overlooked Edge: Speed
There's been a huge emphasis on power in baseball over the last decade. But home runs are down this season, likely because there is so much steroid testing ... read more
Bryan Leonard Sports Past Picks
St. Louis Cardinals @ San Diego Padres Wednesday May 22, 2013 10:10 pm
ST LOUIS @ SAN DIEGOTyler Lyons makes his Major League debut for the Cardinals against Burch Smith, who has been rocked in his two outings. Lyons is a lefty, which is a benefit for us because lefties, especially control pitchers like Lyons, tend to have a lot of success their first ... read more
Cincinnati Reds @ New York Mets Wednesday May 22, 2013 1:10 pm
CINCINNATI @ NY METSMat Latos and the Reds take on Matt Harvey and the Mets on getaway day at Citi Field on Wednesday. The Reds are looking to finish their road trip with a 7-2 mark while the Mets are trying to avoid a sweep. Latos should come plenty prepared for this start, knowing ... read more
Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday May 21, 2013 7:05 pm
CHICAGO CUBS @ PITTSBURGHMatt Garza makes his first start since July 21 of last season and he'll have to be on top of his game against Wandy Rodriguez and the Pirates. Garza missed the final two and a half months of 2012 with an elbow injury and was sidelined to start 2013 by an ... read more
Seattle Mariners @ Cleveland Indians Monday May 20, 2013 12:05 pm
SEATTLE @ CLEVELANDHisashi Iwakuma and Scott Kazmir each draw favorable matchups on a Monday getaway day in Cleveland. Iwakuma faces a talented Indians lineup, but one that has struggled against pitchers that they never seen before and guys who sit around 89-90 with a sinker/slider ... read more
Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs Sunday May 19, 2013 3:30 pm
Memphis at San AntonioWe've given the Spurs the benefit of the doubt the last couple months, resting players and preparing for the playoffs. Pops has proven himself to be the best at what he does, so even when struggling down the stretch we expected San Antonio to come out strong ... read more
New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers Saturday May 18, 2013 8:00 pm
New York at IndianaThe Pacers are at their best defending the three and forcing opponents inside against the defense and Hibbard. It's worked perfectly in this series and we see no reason for anything to change. New York has really struggled to shoot from the outside especially at ... read more
Chicago White Sox @ Los Angeles Angels Saturday May 18, 2013 4:05 pm
CHICAGO WHITE SOX @ LA ANGELSJoe Blanton and the Angels are favored over the White Sox on Saturday night with a pretty decent pitcher on the mound. Blanton should not be favored over anybody. He has allowed a mind-blowing total of 75 hits in 46 innings. He has just 29 strikeouts ... read more
Tampa Bay Rays @ Baltimore Orioles Saturday May 18, 2013 4:05 pm
TAMPA BAY @ BALTIMORERoberto Hernandez makes his third start of the season against Baltimore, while Jair Jurrjens comes up from Triple-A to return to the Majors against a team that has never seen him. Hernandez has allowed nine runs in 12 innings against Baltimore this season. He ... read more
Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves Friday May 17, 2013 7:30 pm
LA DODGERS @ ATLANTAThe Braves will get their first look at Hyun-Jin Ryu and lefties tend to be a good bet in their first start against an opponent. This is especially true of Ryu, who is averaging just above a strikeout per inning and has walked just 15 in 50.1 innings. The Braves ... read more
Milwaukee Brewers @ Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday May 16, 2013 7:05 pm
MILWAUKEE @ PITTSBURGHHiram Burgos was good in his first three Major League starts before getting bombed by the Cincinnati Reds. He's in a bounce back spot on Thursday night against the light-hitting Pirates and Francisco Liriano. Burgos gave up six runs in his first 18 Major ... read more